suicide glow up

Turns out I look my most radiant after two suicide attempts in two weeks.

Whoops.

My existential crises continue to pile on top of one another and still, still, my eating disorder is somehow not a valid thing to kill myself over?

What about when I sob into the carpet over the calories in the two carrots I ate today? What about when I force the hunger out of my body with more and more exercise, until I am beyond empty, and so tired that I stop feeling it? What about the low blood pressure that gets ruled off as inconsequential, and the sudden arrhythmias that strike at my most stressed, but don’t dissipate for days? What about the scars on my body, traversing my forearms and thighs and calves, scars that say I deserve to be punished. I must do better? What about when I would literally rather die than exist?

I can’t exist in this body. I can’t exist in this fleshy form that takes up too much space. I can’t exist alongside Ana anymore – I’ve given up fighting. I tried drowning her out with cough syrup (much, much more cough syrup) and a shit ton of alcohol and the best thing to come out of it is that it made me throw up a lot. Which is nice as a bulimic with an intolerable gag reflex ordinarily unable to purge.

(Yes, I’m still bulimic. No, I do not vomit. Yes, there is more than one way to have an eating disorder. No, I will not be taking questions… but, yes, I have written about that elsewhere on the blog.)

I’m so done with this. I don’t want to be here anymore. My exams in anatomy and neurophysiology (two subjects I adore) are next week and I feel about as prepared as a teabag thrown in cold water still expected to brew a strong cuppa. Not much, in other words.

I’m so done with being eloquent. I’m saving it for my book. Which, UPDATE, I have completed the first draft of and sent off to a bunch of niche Australian publishers in the hope someone picks it up. Would anyone appreciate a sneak peek?

Whatever, I’m out of words. Seeya never.

Detained.

I don’t recommend drinking cough syrup with suicidal intent. Not because it tastes bad, but because respiratory depression is a rarer side effect than they make out.

Things have been hard again lately. For the first time maybe ever, I thought I might actually been happy – that’s why the blog posts dropped off for a bit there: things were going quite well for me.

But then Ana got loud again. So loud in fact, that I was coerced into suicide attempt number three, which I (obviously) survived. The trigger? I ate some chips, and I’m not allowed to do that, so I had to be punished for breaking the rules, and Ana decided that enough is enough, fat stupid bitch, time to be punished for good. So off we went to the pharmacy, a lie slipping slyly from my lips that my housemate had requested I buy her cough syrup containing a codeine-derivative for her persistent dry cough which she has had for many weeks. Lol, no. I downed it all along with a few beers.

I found myself in the emergency department once again. This time, my therapist had called, and sensing something was off, told me I could either walk the short distance from my university campus to the local hospital, or the police could find me and drag me there. I choose the former: I will never forget the utter violation of being restrained. The chorus I repeated over and over fell on ears that refused to listen: I’d like to leave please. (While Ana whispers, yes, so we can try again, and better. Let’s go home to do it again, and better, because you deserve to be dead). Suffice to say, they were practically the only five words I uttered to the emergency psychiatric team who first interviewed me. Apparently, that was enough for me to be scheduled for admission, and detained involuntarily.

What a fucking mess I’ve made.

Considering my determination to self-harm in this small emergency psychiatric unit, I’m surprised I wasn’t sent somewhere worse, or at the very least subject to seclusion briefly. Three times I reopened recently sutured self-harm wounds with a plastic knife. Countless times I threw my body against the wall, in an attempt to relieve some of the pain generated by the thoughts in my head. I wanted to turn my head into a watermelon – the smashed kind, where grey and white matter dribbled down the sterile walls like the fruit dropped on the floor.

I’ve been released now – not discharged, released. I don’t know what I’m supposed to think or feel or do. Am I supposed to be sad? Or is it the opposite – am I meant to be glad that I woke to face another day?

This admission, I learned that when involuntarily detained, the doctor still retains the right to speak to my parents, even though I always always specifically nominate they be excluded from my care. After all, they do live on the opposite side of the country. And, after all, BPD doesn’t exist to them. I guess them finding out I still struggle is a good enough reason to stay out of hospital from now on – or at least, if there is a next time, which there no doubt will be, I need to lie my way to a voluntary admission.

I’m clutching on tight to my laptop, a good book, and two journals as I attempt to return to my mockery of a life. Three weeks until exams. Three weeks until I can try again.

Declined

M, yeah, not much I can do with this, sorry.

Aren’t discriminatory doctors the absolute worst?

They see me as three letters, as my abbreviation; they see me as the negative adjectives in my notes, in the words “aggressive” and “sedated” and “self-inflicted”.

They don’t see me for what I am: hurting, and in need of help.

This is not true of all doctors, but sadly, it is very true to some. I had a rough night yesterday (Thursday). I contemplated whether or not I needed to go to hospital for my cuts, because I didn’t want to wait and wait and wait only to be turned away and told there was nothing the doctor could do about them. I spoke to a friend who is studying medicine. I spoke to a friend’s mum who is a doctor. I used my own very limited knowledge of wound care and The Internet to figure out that yeah, it was pretty deep, and yeah, it probably wouldn’t heal nicely without stitches.

That’ll heal on it’s own.

Look, I get that I put these wounds on my body, I get that I did this to myself, but do you think I like the scars? Do you honestly believe that in one, two, five or ten years, that ragged wound that you left hanging open will have healed nicely?

I don’t think so.

I think that you’ve been caught in stigma without even realising. I think I’ve been unlucky this night. I think you, the doctor delegated to me, doesn’t understand my condition very well – if at all – and I think your punishing me for punishing myself. You just poked and prodded me, turned my wrist over, checked both arms just in case, then dropped it back at my side. You didn’t even clean it. You didn’t even dress it. You just sent me away again.

This is one of the reasons, the strongest reason, why I wanted to study medicine. Because what happened to me in the emergency department is not okay. It is not okay to treat me as a diagnosis, and not as a patient. It is not okay to fail to offer me adequate care just because my wounds are self-inflicted.

I don’t care what you say; what you did was not okay.

And every time a doctor like you succumbs to the stigma, it makes going to the hospital that much harder. It makes seeking help that much harder. It makes the lives of people like me, of us borderlines, but also of everybody else suffering from a mental illness who needs medical attention, that much harder.

We don’t need that. We don’t need to be rejected more than we have been by our friends, family and colleagues. We don’t need our traumas regurgitated by your invalidation and stigmatisation. We don’t need to be afraid of going to hospital, when the hospital is supposed to be there to care for us, no matter what condition has brought us there. We don’t need any more difficulties piled on top of all the other ones we face, every single fucking day. We don’t need you.

We need your compassion. Your care. Your empathy.

We need to be treated like people, not like letters. We need to be treated like any other patient. And maybe if you got talking to me, like other doctors and nurses sometimes have, then maybe, just maybe, you’ll see we aren’t the Big Bad Borderlines you’ve let yourself believe we are.

She’s a deep one

In one of the many stories I have written, I describe how a character stitches her own foot close, and the black thread that wobbles across her heel like a tree branch, because she couldn’t stop her hands from shaking as she sewed herself back together again. It’s a chilling detail, but recently I imagined myself doing this. Would it hurt? Would alcohol help? Would it be like in a movie, where the person who stitches themselves back together again are hardcore and had a lot of practice at such a task?

It’s Thursday night as I write, but forty-eight hours ago, I cut. And badly. I went all out. Fat bubbled up from under the skin immediately, and I knew, I just knew, that I’d gone too deep. I poked at it a bit, tried to squish it together with some steri-strips and tape and it popped right back open, more globules of yellow gelatinous tissue spilling from the edges of the wounds. The bleeding was slowing, but nowhere near stopped.

Bugger.

I considered stitching it closed myself, with a needle and thread and no anaesthetic and some vodka to control the shaking.

I was seriously considering it. I don’t do well in emergency departments. The noise – sirens, shouts, moans, alarms – is too much for my hypersensitive soul, and time always dissolves away into a vacuum of dissociation as dark thoughts are compounded by a long wait. I looked at my sewing kit. I looked in the pantry, top shelf, for alcohol – nothing. I looked at the sewing kit again, sighed, and didn’t do it. I exhausted my list of friends to call who could drive me. Eventually one answered. [I probably could have driven myself, but that would have been dangerous, considering I drive manual (aka stick shift) and need both hands.]

It always rains when I go to the emergency department.

Breaths bubbled in my chest, caught between my ribs, as doctors and nurses pass who’ve previously had their hands on me. And then it is my time, and apart from my anaesthetised arm, the rest of my body trembles with anxiety, as the doctor speaks in soothing tones to keep me calm. As always with stitches and blood tests and the like, I watch. I see that crooked branch of black thread form, fascinated by the process. It twists and turns but I’m grateful for their neatness and their smallness. Finally, she pauses between sutures, and asks,

do you want to talk about it?

I say no, but I mean yes, and then the words are bubbling out and she listens intently even as she continues to wipe blood away and jabs more anaesthetic in me (ouch) and then more adrenaline to stop the bleeding and then pulls and pokes and prods with more stitches. I can’t help it. I’m so emotionally exhausted that I lose all control over my feelings. I’m at peak anxiety levels, but this doctor still tries to soothe me. I’m a helpless mess, but this doctor is helping me. I’m a waste of time here, but this doctor took the time to fix me.

She pauses again, and inspects her work,

that shouldn’t scar too badly.

I smile, and weakly remind her of the other scars that traverse the rest of my body, the ones that were never stitched, the ugly, jagged, raised scars – some pink, some white, some grey. A compulsive burst of laughter bubbles out of me, and then tears fall. One after the other. Drops collect on the white sheets beneath me as I fall silent. Not all doctors have treated me with such kindness, not with a notes list full of scary terms like “BPD” and “verbally aggressive” and “sedated” and “self harm”.

Are you certain? she asks. I’m happy to listen.

My heart blooms but my head shakes despite her generosity, and off I go, all stitched up, into the cold, wet night.

Emergency Department Trauma

I’m not unfamiliar with trauma. I suffered emotional abuse as I was growing up, and was physically and verbally bullied for many years. I was diagnosed with PTSD as a result, when the intrusive flashbacks and nightmares were at their worst. There’s the scale trauma I experience every time I am asked to be weighed, and the defensive mechanisms that spring from an inability to be touched by strangers, no matter how innocently.

On the eve of christmas eve, I attempted suicide. It doesn’t matter why. (And I’m still trying to work that out anyway).

But I was so intent on death that I refused treatment. I tore out the drip that was infusing me with medicine that would save my life, and prevent organ failure. I curled into a ball as they tried to replace it, and I remained silent when the psychiatrist spoke to me.

All I can feel is the hands.

The hands of a disproportionately high number of nurses restraining me. The hands that held me still as I was sedated. The hands that gripped tighter the more I squirmed, and the hands that didn’t loosen until I began to fall asleep. I can feel them on every part of me. Three on each leg, two on each arm, and one on each foot to stop me kicking. I can feel the strength of their grip, and the repulsion that bubbles out of my chest.

I have never felt so powerless.

And I can’t stop the feeling from flowing. I can’t stop feeling their hands.

I needed them; I did. I needed to be restrained in order to be saved. This isn’t a post about the misuse or overuse of restraint. This is a post about how to cope with being held down against your will.

How do I forget this feeling, when all I can feel and see is hands? How am I supposed to return to drawing, when the body is the focus of my art, and my body has become tainted? How am I supposed to return to the emergency department in the future, knowing that there’s every possibility that I will need restrained again?

How do I forget their hands?